In 2021, 13.4% of employees in the EU-27 teleworked from home. his figure is significantly below the potential for full implementation of this way of working, which according to various estimates, can range between 30 and 40% of jobs.
What depends on whether or not teleworking is implemented in an organization? Of course, the reason for this lies mainly in the perceptions and capabilities of the people who have the power to decide on telework implementation in an organization.
The WorkingSmart Erasmus+ project has surveyed five European countries to find out the perceptions about telework by managers and business owners and thus be able to properly train the people who will lead its implementation (see below the information on the sample). The data obtained indicate that decision-makers have a generally positive assessment of telework and intend to implement it soon or increase its current level of implementation in their organizations.
They think telework is applicable to their tasks and that the results of telework use are tangible and observable. Implementing telework does not cause them anxiety, and they perceive that they can control it adequately. All this, without deluding themselves about the effort it will require since they assume that significant changes in their jobs and routines will be necessary. The implementation of teleworking does not cause them anxiety, and they perceive that they can control it adequately. All of this, without being deceived about the effort it will require, since they assume that significant changes in their jobs and routines will be necessary. However, there are differences according to the respondent’s profile, which is relevant to understand the possible difficulties in the diffusion of telework in organizations.
People who have a vision of the company as a whole (business owners and in general management positions), especially if the company is very small, have a similar pattern of behavior towards teleworking, which differs in some respects from that of managers at lower hierarchical levels:
Risk perception is much higher among CEOs and business owners concerning the loss of corporate culture, team cohesion and commitment, and communication skills or internal communication.
CEOs and business owners also have a less positive perception of the quality of the results obtained with telework, its usefulness, the opportunities it offers for the balance of work and family life, or the satisfaction of workers with this way of organizing work.
For managers at the highest hierarchical level, teleworking is less pleasant, satisfactory and interesting than for other managers. On the contrary, their confidence, ease or comfort perceptions are less favorable. On the contrary, their confidence, ease or comfort perceptions are less favorable.
Consequently, business owners and CEOs give less importance to implementing telework than other managers.This is more clearly the case when the company size is smaller and can certainly generate a brake (if not a barrier) to the diffusion of telework in European micro-SMEs and SMEs.
These results suggest that any action aimed at promoting the implementation of telework in Europe should pay special attention to the group with the worst perception of this form of work, i.e., people who occupy the highest hierarchical level in smaller companies, whether owners or general management. People with managerial roles at lower hierarchical levels, especially in large companies, are more favorable to telework and feel that it is not a difficult change in their way of acting.
The WorkingSmart Erasmus+ survey has collected 186 responses from people with diverse profiles (see
Tables 1 and 2) who can influence the implementation of telework in their organizations.